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Police report increase in call volume as St. Patrick's Day celebrations ramp up

Last Updated Mar 17, 2018 at 3:42 pm EDT

570 NEWS - Bryan Levesque

A busy night and day for Regional Police in Waterloo’s university district, as rowdy students got a head start on St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Police say they dealt with an increase in calls overnight Friday, as officers responded to several disturbances in the Ezra Avenue neighbourhood — ranging from public intoxication to stunt driving to robberies — resulting in several arrests.

Revelers are being reminded the decisions they make on Saturday can affect their future, as police say they’re clamping down on the unsanctioned drink fest that sees thousands of young people take over Ezra Avenue every St. Paddy’s Day.

You’re being urged to move the party to a licensed establishment, as police say the street-front festivities on Ezra is a major safety concern — officers reporting Saturday morning they had to assist a woman who already had too much to drink and almost fell into traffic.

Party buses from out-of-town that plan to attend this year’s festivities are being inspected by Regional Police, who seized open alcohol after stopping a bus arriving from Scarborough.

Local police have brought in support officers from Peel Regional Police to help manage the crowds and ensure public safety.

In an update at 2 p.m., WRPS Inspector Michael Haffner says they’ve seen a “significant increase” in the number of attendees on Ezra Avenue compared to last year.

“As of noon – we attended 30 gatherings in the Ezra, Albert, and Marshall area – with excess of 30 to 300 people at each residence, a number of liquor licence act charges have been laid, as well as two keg parties that have been stopped with the alcohol seized and charges laid.”

Haffner says the good news is – there’s been no arrests, so far.

“However, we have heard multiple reports of people jumping from balconies, or rooftops. We’re concerned about their safety, and obviously the consumption of alcohol and binge drinking. We want to encourage everyone to be safe.”

Deputy Chief Rob Crossan with ROW Paramedic Services says they’re on par with last year’s volume.

“Right now, we’re sitting at over 20 calls – most of those in the last two hours. Between noon and 2 o’clock – it was about one call every five to six minutes for assistance. Every single one of them is alcohol-involved, there have been some falls – but we can say that no one that we’ve transported to hospital has been serious or critical. Most are just far too intoxicated.”

Last year, paramedics had 69 responses and 44 patient-transports. Crossan says they’re on pace for that this year, unfortunately.

Officials will provide another update at WRPS North Division Headquarters in Waterloo at 6 p.m.